COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CONSIDERS REPORT OF JAMAICA
2 May 2013
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Jamaica on that country’s implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Introducing the report, Wayne McCook, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said his country was a small, vulnerable, highly-indebted middle-income State which was susceptible to external shocks, including natural disasters. Despite the challenges, Jamaica was committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, and had recently passed new laws and policies to tackle poverty, increase affordable housing in deprived urban areas, give financial protection to workers and their families, and end discrimination towards vulnerable groups such as women, children and persons with disabilities. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had appointed three women to her Cabinet and was committed to ensuring women’s involvement in the decision-making process at the highest levels. The diversity of the Jamaican population was well recognized through annual celebrations of the Rastafarian and the Maroon, which were viewed as indigenous cultures.
Committee Experts asked questions about measures to end discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and to decriminalize same-sex, consensual relations between adults. Experts enquired about policies to improve gender equality, particularly the gender pay gap and women’s right to work given that their unemployment rate was double that of men. Measures to reduce the poverty rate, end corruption, and deal with immigration of highly-skilled Jamaican (the ‘brain drain’) and the high crime and murder rate were also discussed. Illegal drug use, education and the adult illiteracy rate were also raised, as was domestic violence and measures to encourage men to take more responsibility in the domestic sphere, such as childcare.
In concluding remarks, Mr. McCook thanked the Committee for the opportunity to reflect on a set of rights which were central to Jamaica’s engagement with the international community, and should not be made a secondary concern of the human rights system.
Renato Zerbini Ribeirro Leao, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the report of Jamaica, in preliminary concluding remarks, said there had been an open and frank dialogue, which had been illustrated with a lot of updated data. Jamaica faced many challenges and points needed to be worked upon, though these efforts were being made and that was what was important.
The Jamaican delegation consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The next public meeting of the Committee will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, 3 May, when it will start its consideration of the third periodic report of Azerbaijan (E/C.12/AZE/3). The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on country reports reviewed this session will be published on the first working day after the end of the session on Friday, 17 May on its webpage.
Report of Jamaica
The combined third and fourth periodic report of Jamaica can be read here: (E/C.12/JAM/3-4).
Presentation of the report of Jamaica
WAYNE McCOOK, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said his country was a small, vulnerable, highly-indebted middle-income State which was susceptible to external shocks, including natural disasters. Its public debt stood at $1.812 billion – with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 134 per cent. The passage of Hurricane Sandy in September 2012 resulted in total damage and losses estimated at $1.5 billion. That, coupled with the continued global economic crisis, largely accounted for the relatively flat growth of negative 0.4 per cent for the fiscal year ending 31 March 2013. Jamaica’s designation as an upper-middle-income country further complicated the situation as it was not able to benefit from concessionary loans from multilateral lending agencies. The high and recurring costs in dealing with the impact of the effects of climate change and natural disasters were a further burden. The Government was in the process of securing a Four Year Extended Fund Facility from the International Monetary Fund to help Jamaica’s process of economic reform to reduce debt and secure the conditions most conducive to economic growth and job creation.
Despite the challenges, Jamaica was committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, including in its support of liberation struggles in Angola, Namibia and Mozambique as part of its steadfast opposition to racism and racial discrimination in Southern Africa. In April 2011 the Government adopted the Charter on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which reinforced the right to equality before the law, as well as an array of child rights such as the right to receive public education at pre-primary and primary levels. New policies to improve the standard of living included the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education, a conditional cash transfer programme funded jointly by the Government and the World Bank that currently covered 412,701 beneficiaries from 135,000 households. The National Insurance Scheme gave financial protection to workers and their families against loss of income arising from injury on the job, incapacity, retirement and death of the uninsured; while the Jamaica Social Investment Fund implemented community-based programmes to reduce poverty and increase social development. The National Housing Trust was increasing affordable housing by building 5,000 homes in degraded urban communities.
Measures to end discrimination towards vulnerable groups such as women, children and the disabled included a draft Disabilities Bill that would go before Parliament this year. The Tackling Child Labour through Education Project undertook activities to combat child labour. On 8 March 2013 the Minister for Gender Affairs launched a six-month Public Education Campaign entitled ‘The Way Out’, with a budget of $7.5 million to promote women’s empowerment. A draft National Strategic Plan of Action to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence had been prepared in consultation with non-governmental organizations. A Sexual Harassment Policy had been drafted and a Gender Advisory Council would soon be established. There was not yet a quota system to ensure women’s representation in parliament but Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had appointed three women to her Cabinet and was committed to ensuring women’s involvement in the decision-making process at the highest levels. Women currently accounted for 12.7 per cent of Members of Parliament, 20 per cent of Cabinet Ministers, 25 per cent of Senators, 16.7 per cent of Local Government Councillors, 28.6 per cent of Mayors and 56 per cent of Permanent Secretaries, as well as 36.9 per cent of Public Sector Boards. The use of special measures was planned to establish a 30 per cent quota for women’s representation in local and central Government and all State-owned enterprises.
Access to safe and potable water was currently at 85 per cent, while the 15 per cent gap would be closed via the Rural Water Master Plan, which was currently mapping areas without water to determine the appropriate system and costing. A Food and Nutrition Security Policy was currently being approved by Cabinet. On cultural rights, the diversity of the Jamaican population was well recognized through annual celebrations of the Rastafarian and the Maroon, which were viewed as indigenous cultures. The Government’s commitment to improve the welfare of its citizens in all areas of life, including in the economic, social and cultural spheres, was in keeping with the objective of its National Development Plan: Vision 20/30, which envisioned Jamaica as a place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. Jamaica remained committed to that goal despite issues external to its borders that impacted upon its ability to meet its objectives, and looked forward to the continued support of the international community.
Questions by Experts
RENATO ZERBINI RIBEIRRO LEAO, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Jamaica, complimented Jamaica on its considerable progress made in complying with the Convention and international norms, for instance in achieving life expectancy rates on a level with most high-income countries and achieving universal enrolment in primary and secondary education. However, there were still challenges to overcome before it had fully implemented the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Constitution contained many provisions for key human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Rapporteur said, but how was the Covenant integrated into that and domestic legislation: did it include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, health and other conditions relating to the person in the Convention? Jamaica was extremely vulnerable to external crises, especially the global financial crisis, including a drop in demand for Jamaican goods and services which led directly to a decline in GDP. Development had also been hindered by a series of natural disasters, namely the hurricanes that hit the island in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Employment and unemployment rates had fluctuated as a result of the global financial crisis, and the unemployment of women and of young people was a real concern. Women, young people and persons with disabilities were the most vulnerable groups in the labour market. How were women living in rural areas, and women in general, being helped to access formal employment, and how was the significant difference in pay levels (the gender pay-gap) for men and women being tackled? What was being done to help persons with disabilities realise their rights? The Rapporteur asked about emigration, including the ‘brain drain’ of young Jamaican professionals, with tertiary education, leaving the country in search of jobs. He also asked about economic migrants coming into Jamaica. There was a minimum wage which, since it came into force, had been frequently adjusted. Could the delegation provide up-to-date information on that? What about the national insurance plan, pension schemes and other forms of social security?
Jamaica was on the right path to achieve some Millennium Development Goals before the deadline of 2015, the Rapporteur commended, for instance that of life expectancy which was now similar to that in many high-income countries. It seemed that poverty levels had increased since the last study some years ago, he noted, asking about new data on poverty levels, and about tangible measures to address the serious housing problem, particularly for households headed by women, people living with disabilities and rural populations. The Rapporteur also asked about measures to protect cultural heritage, as there was no specific legislation to protect traditional knowledge of indigenous communities and of the country as a whole.
Another Expert said that Jamaica, similarly to many Caribbean and Latin American countries, had a large population living abroad – approximately 2.5 million. What policies did the State party have to keep in touch with that population, who were often highly-trained people – would the Government like to encourage them to return to Jamaica? What was the policy on refugees, and in particular refugees from Haiti?
Regarding discrimination towards women, the Expert praised Jamaica for setting up the National Gender Equality Programme, the Gender Advisory Council and its other policies in that regard. However, it was worrying to see that women disproportionately suffered a two-fold level of unemployment. How was that being addressed? An Expert praised Jamaica for its plans to use special measures to increase women’s level of representation in decision making positions to 30 per cent in local and central Government and in all State-owned enterprises, but said that 20 years after Beijing, 30 per cent was still low. Were there plans to increase that quota?
A Committee Expert was very concerned about discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in Jamaica. There were prevailing discriminatory attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons that should necessitate public awareness-raising campaigns – what was the State doing in that regard? Some music and entertainers in Jamaica encouraged violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
Jamaican legislation criminalized same-sex, consensual relations between adults. The Committee was aware of the current debate on the issue, which had repeatedly been addressed in the Universal Periodic Review process. In the past and even this week the Government had told the Human Rights Council and this Committee that it had no intention to address the issue of decriminalization of same-sex, consensual, adult relations. At the same time the Government said it would not tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation – there was a clear contradiction in views that the Committee would welcome enlightenment on.
An Expert commented that the Committee did not generally like having combined periodic reports, and permitted them when a State party fell behind in the submission of its reports. Why had Jamaica combined its third and fourth periodic report, and more widely, fallen behind in its reporting obligations? Furthermore, when would Jamaica be ready to ratify the Optional Protocol?
An Expert said he had not had the privilege of visiting Jamaica – which he had heard was beautiful and inhabited by friendly, generous people – but was plagued by two major problems. First its very high crime rate which blemished its reputation. There was a link between the crime rate and the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, as without law and order it was almost impossible to enjoy human rights. The second serious problem was corruption: what specific solutions had been adopted to address corruption, which had so many negative ramifications upon economic, social and cultural rights?
An Expert said she was happy to see that the Jamaican delegation was very gender balanced, adding that there was excellent gender equality in the Foreign Service with 56 per cent of Permanent Secretaries being women. However, on the right to work, women’s unemployment rate was double that of men. Women were segregated in particular types of work. They mostly worked in low-paying jobs. It was ironic because women were highly educated in Jamaica, so what obstacles prevented them from working in higher-status and higher-paying jobs? Was it because of gender stereotypes that led people to believe women should stay at home, raise children and look after the house? How did Jamaican society view the role of women? On family protection, the 1979 law on maternity leave obliged employers to pay for 28 weeks for a birth, whether a live or still birth, and including premature births. Female workers could take up to three maternity leaves with the same employer. Had that law been updated to include paternity and parental leave?
The Committee was pleased to hear that Jamaica would adopt a policy on tackling sexual harassment. That was not enough, though, what was needed was a law to criminalize and punish sexual harassment and provide for victims. Regarding child labour, agriculture, fishing and in the informal sector were the main fields where children worked. However, there were no labour inspectors for the informal sector, so how did the Government tackle child labour in those areas?
An Expert commented that while Jamaica did not have rich resources such as the oil found in small Gulf island states, it did not have such bad gross domestic product. He joked that Captain Morgan Rum (a popular export from Jamaica) would not bring in the same remittances as oil, but wondered why unemployment and inflation were so high. Jamaica had a serious problem with trafficking in persons that affected many young children and girls, and had been encouraged by the international community to take more vigorous measures to tackle it, including punitive measures for perpetrators. What was being done?
Response by the Delegation
On the application of the Covenant in Jamaica’s domestic legal system, a delegate explained that Jamaica had a duellist approach to the incorporation of international treaties, so treaties were not directly applicable unless incorporated into the domestic system. However courts had the right to call upon international treaties to interpret domestic law where domestic laws were unclear. Many provisions of the Convention were included in domestic legislation and could be brought to courts by individuals. There was no specific case law to bring to the Committee’s attention yet, and the Government did not necessarily believe there was a legislative gap regarding gender discrimination.
The Jamaican diaspora was a priority area for Jamaica and the Government worked to address mutual concerns and engage them. Jamaica had a very progressive method for interfacing with its citizens living abroad. The original Returning Residents Unit became an Office for Diaspora Affairs, with its own Minister, located within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There was an interactive process of development of diaspora policy in which members of the diaspora around the world were fully engaged. The diaspora was primarily located in Europe and North America, and every two years Jamaica held a conference to discuss issues affecting them, from immigration issues to their involvement in national development. So far there had been a very positive response.
In 2013 the Diaspora Conference would be held from 17 to 19 June, and would focus on various issues, including the Diaspora Bond which encouraged diasporians to invest in Jamaica and national development. The Diaspora Foundation was another method of engagement. It was very hard to quantify the numbers in the diaspora, but in Europe alone there were close to two million persons and in North America another two to three million, although that was a very humble guestimate. The diaspora included first, second, third and fourth generations, so persons born outside of Jamaica were still considered to be members of the diaspora.
Repatriation was tackled through the Office for Diaspora Affairs. There were several policies to facilitate the return home of Jamaicans. For example, there were special customs provisions solely to enable returnees to come home with the means to establish themselves back in Jamaica.
Jamaica had a legislative framework in place to tackle corruption. For example, the Corruption Prevention Act required all public servants to declare their levels of income and assets. The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption was responsible for receiving those declarations annually, and for forwarding the details of anyone who did not cooperate to the Prosecutor’s Office. It was planned to appoint a dedicated prosecutor to work solely on cases of corruption. Other initiatives included the Contractor General Act that gave the Contractor General the power to investigate contracts for traces of corruption. Jamaica also reported to international bodies on the United Nations and the Inter-Americas anti-corruption treaties.
Women’s empowerment in terms of employment was recognized as a challenge in Jamaica, and the Minister for Gender Affairs gave special support to businesses that were led and dominated by women, particularly in the area of micro-enterprise. Training was given in many areas including management, marketing, e-commerce, customer service and more. There were now quotas for young women to enter traditionally male areas of study. It was recognized that it was not something laws could change overnight: cultural norms needed to be changed too, and training was a good start. A delegate pointed out that tertiary-level education (such as university) was so balanced towards women that they now made up the majority. The Government was hopeful that the gender balance seen in tertiary-level education would eventually come to the workforce, as the challenges of unemployment and of women’s unemployment had to be addressed concurrently.
It was recognized that women could make the highest contribution to the country, the head of delegation said, as seen in the Prime Minister of Jamaica, who was a woman. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller not only led the party but also the Government. It was not enough to have a woman prime minister, of course, but it indicated the shift in attitudes towards women’s contributions.
Jamaica’s refugee policy was in line with the Convention. A Committee member mentioned disparities in practice, a delegate said, agreeing that that was a problem they were working on. Standardization of how refugees arriving into Jamaica were treated was needed. An Expert asked about entry to Haitians, a delegate said, answering that in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti a number of Haitians had sought, and received, refugee status in Jamaica. Jamaica had very friendly relations with Haiti and accordingly held out a hand of friendship to those refugees, treating them very well. However, there were cases of economic migrants attempting entry to Jamaica. In recent weeks immigration officials had encountered Haitians, on the high seas in weather-weary boats, and discovered that most of the time it was the United States, not Jamaica, which was their intended destination. They were economic migrants and Jamaica was not obliged to allow them entry.
Questions by the Experts
Jamaica, unfortunately, had the highest murder rate in the world, an Expert said. Along with other regional countries, it truly suffered from a very high level of violence. This had implications on the budget, such as the health budget to treat people injured by violence, as well as the deaths.
HIV/AIDS was also a serious problem, with 1.6 per cent of the adult population infected, an Expert said. Crack consumers and sex workers accounted for a large proportion of people suffering from AIDS. That led to the serious problem of drug addiction in Jamaica, which had a huge impact not only on drug consumers but on society as a whole. The Expert said it seemed that finally, a global change in the approach to tackling drug use could be seen. The United States, for the first time, had said that preventive treatment, rather than law enforcement, was needed to tackle drug use. Furthermore, disastrous policies to tackle drug use in Colombia had sparked off terrible violence. Had Jamaica thought about a new approach to its problems with illegal drug use?
An Expert asked about efforts to address domestic violence, particularly aimed at men. Was domestic violence defined as a crime in law, and how were men who were violent to women penalized? What about domestic violence within the family, and furthermore the sharing of domestic tasks – such as childcare and housework – in the family. How were men being taught to share the responsibilities of the family?
There was a very high teenage pregnancy rate in Jamaica, as seen in many Latin American countries. Implications included unsafe abortion, school drop-out, unemployment and ultimately poverty in old age and more. Pregnancy was not just a consequence of the behaviour of teenage girls, of course: what efforts were being made to educate teenage boys and adult men on preventing teenage pregnancy? Was there family planning education in schools? Were statistics collected on abortions in Jamaica?
The area of mental healthcare was a huge concern in Jamaica: there was only one hospital for mental healthcare and few funding opportunities to have any more mental healthcare institutions, an Expert said.
An Expert commended the State party on its recognition of the Rastafarian and the Maroon communities as indigenous peoples, which was a very positive development. However, what about the other ethnic groups in Jamaica? How many Maroons were there in the country and what status did they enjoy, such as privileges of common land? The Expert also commended regional and national efforts in Jamaica to promote and protect traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, such as literary and artistic production.
Turning to education, Jamaica was commended on its very high school attendance rates. The delegation mentioned additional measures to enable children from all areas of society to access education: could they elaborate on those? Some sources say only 10 per cent of children with disabilities had formal schooling: could the delegation comment on that? Adult illiteracy rates were quite high – around 25 per cent at the time of the last report – was there a literacy strategy, particularly to compare illiteracy between men and women?
Response by the Delegation
In response to these questions and comments and others, the head of delegation said Jamaica had raised, in the Universal Period Review, the challenges of multiple reporting obligations to treaty bodies, as faced by a number of countries. It had combined its reports in order to prioritize meeting treaty body deadlines. Like many other countries, Jamaica was faced with a plethora of special procedures and reporting obligations: today was the fourth time Jamaica sat in a procedure in less than 20 months (Committee on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Universal Periodic Review, this Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and now preparations for the next Universal Periodic Review), and it took a team of people many months to compile a report. Jamaica was committed to meeting the challenges but asked for awareness of its multiple responsibilities.
On the lyrics of certain performers in relation to the rights of persons, matters relating to freedom of expression needed to carefully balance that right against any other impacts it may have on other persons. There was a wide discourse on the topic, and the broadcasting body had taken steps to appropriately deal with situations where violence was portrayed in public medium. About sexual harassment, a draft policy had been submitted and a request was to be sent to the Cabinet to formally approve drafting instructions for legislation.
On access to water for rural communities, these areas were still connected to the national infrastructure. Maroon communities shared this access. There was a long history of the Maroon group in Jamaica, they had their own lands and there was no distinction or discrimination. They also had their own laws. The treaty signed to give them these rights was being reviewed, though this was a friendly process. Jamaican society was 90 per cent of African descent, while Chinese, Indian and Caucasian groups were also represented.
On housing solutions for women, persons with disabilities and rural communities, the Prime Minister had recently spoken of measures to improve housing solutions in a number of communities. In addition there would be housing improvements for sugar workers. About teenage mothers and education activities, the Education Act provided that where teenage mothers had to leave education as a result of pregnancy, the Education Minister had the right to allow her to return to her original institute, or another institute. Discussions were ongoing about how to deal with teenage mothers among school principals.
With respect to the Disability Bill, it set out fundamental rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities and established institutions that could deal with complaints and facilitate discussion and training. The Act also recognised the explicit economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities. On the Gender Advisory Council, there were plans to establish this, though there was no firm date. On the minimum wage, there was a different rate for security guards as due to their contractual obligations they were seen as particularly vulnerable to unfair wages. The Occupational Safety and Health legislation was being fast-tracked and would be tabled in this legislative year. This would fill gaps between the formal and informal economy.
Voluntary contributions to the national insurance scheme allowed both formally and informally employed persons to receive coverage. This allowed the widest reach and the easiest participation. The Government had provided subventions for those that could not afford access to education and health. Having sought external support the level of benefits had increased. Legislation had also been fast-tracked to deal with troublesome crimes, such as cybersecurity. A community renewal programme was being applied in 100 locations.
Jamaica had always applied a comprehensive approach to drug trafficking and use. The country had endeavoured to play a role in the international fight against drug trafficking. This was seen in cooperation programmes with other countries. In terms of drug use, the concern was to protect those that were victims of its use. This was an issue that the Ministry of Health was engaged in. Domestic violence was covered under chargeable actions in the penal code and programmes and policies were in place to respond. On HIV, there had been efforts in mapping and prevention activities. Administrative actions such as a strategic plan and a national programme had been put in place. Public awareness actions in dispelling myths and targeting information at high-risk communities continued.
Legislation was in place about human trafficking, and there was an inter-agency task force which reviewed cases of persons alleged to be trafficking victims. A vigorous training programme on trafficking had been implemented, particularly for members of the police force. No prosecutions had yet been seen as it was difficult to get victims to come forward. There was no regional policy on trafficking at this stage, though there was cooperation. Trafficking victims had a safe house they could use, and procedures were in place to identify and process such persons.
Jamaica had seen a dramatic reduction in the adolescent fertility rate. The centre which provided services to teenage mothers provided training for both the mothers and fathers. There was not yet any legislation on paternity issues, though this had been considered. There was an advisory committee on abortion policy featuring medical persons, legal experts, church groups and members of women’s groups to consider reform of the abortion law. There were a number of perspectives, however the committee had produced a report though nothing further had been done at this point. This was to be considered in the new Jamaican Charter of Rights.
There were improvements in literacy rates, which were currently at 91 per cent, due to the Government’s efforts to promote literacy among adults and children. The minimum wage advisory commission reviewed the wage periodically, in recent times this had been done annually.
Questions by Experts
An Expert wondered how the contributory insurance system worked, and what was covered? Was there a staggered system for the receipt of benefits based on contribution? Did the minimum wage provide enough for people to adequately live on? Another asked about the Charter of Rights and suggested it left economic, social and cultural rights a little neglected.
Responses by the Delegation
A member of the delegation said the ideal approach would be to list all rights to be protected in the Constitution. Not all rights were listed in the new Charter of Rights, though they were protected under other pieces of legislation. The indices of the consumer price index had begun to fall below the minimum wage and it was thought that the current figure was a sensible rate. It was not ideal in terms of meeting expenses but it corresponded to what was considered a reasonable floor. There was a commitment to social protection, though the funding for this needed to be considered in the framework of the economic situation as outlined. It was necessary to find a way of meeting the cost of this social protection.
An Expert wondered whether domestic violence was considered a social crime? Men needed to be educated by a court or special procedure so they could realise their behaviour was not appropriate, was this seen anywhere? Was there general sex education for young people? Why had a number of farmers in the State party been displaced?
Response by the Delegation
The Domestic Violence Act allowed for criminal sanctions to those breaking protection orders. Some counselling was available, though more was probably needed. Courts had the right to insist that persons involved in domestic violence attended counselling sessions. Sex education was taught in schools and there were guidance counsellors available. A consequence of trade liberalisation was that domestic producers that were not efficient had been displaced. Jamaica was currently a net food importing country, though an exporter of certain types of food. The situation of Jamaica on this point was not unique.
RENATO ZERBINI RIBEIRRO LEAO, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Jamaica said there had been an open and frank dialogue, which had been illustrated with a lot of updated data. Jamaica faced many challenges and points that needed to be worked on, though these efforts were being made and that was what was important.
WAYNE McCOOK, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jamaica to United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to reflect on a set of rights which were central to Jamaica’s engagement with the international community. It was hoped that these rights should be reflected upon as core concerns, as they filled out the body of rights that the international community needed to respect. They brought balance and should not be made a secondary concern of the human rights system.
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